Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Sunday Fun Day - 3/24/19 - Lent, Swim "Graduation", Spring!, Garden Bed

Oh dear. I'm falling down on my renewed New Year's Resolution of blogging weekly! Darn it! Oh well, time to play some catch up!! Giddy up!

1. Lent
So it has become customary within Catholicism (and maybe Christianity more broadly? I can't really speak to anything other than how us crazy Catholics roll) to "give up" something during the 40 days of Lent between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. As I understand it - you take this period to make sacrifices (not of the fatted calf variety - this is not Biblical time for goodness' sake) to keep you connected to the sacrifices Jesus made to save the world. Whoosh. Heavy stuff, right? Side note- you more learned Catholics- please inform me of the "real" reasoning behind Lenten promises- as with so much of my life - I fear my understanding is at approximately the 3rd grade level!!!

Either way - I read an article written by a Jesuit priest a few years ago which encouraged "taking up" something for Lent, rather than  "giving up". Prior to reading the article, I would go without Diet Coke (as I said this was years ago when I was in the thick of that habit), chocolate, dessert, or meat. I have appreciated the "taking up" side of this coin much more - and I think, have become a better version of myself in the process. 

So this year, I decided to "take up" a kindness every day. Whether a random act of kindness or something that took more planning doesn't really matter, the goal is to do something thoughtful/helpful/useful/connecting/kind for a friend, family member, neighbor, or my community. So far I have done A LOT of litter pick up. It doesn't take any planning, but litter is (sadly) everywhere. Now that the snow & ice have melted, a whole winter's worth of litter has been revealed :( Lulu will sometimes get in on this one, which makes me quite glad. Also - some days I am the poop fairy. I try to look at these abandoned piles of dog shit without judging the dogs' owners - hoping that they forgot a bag or their dog pulled a fast one & pooped twice on 1 walk. I hate to admit I resent the dog poop more than general litter.....although it could be said that all litter is created equal! But poop. Ugh. More fun stuff has been baking treats, writing notes, sending all the good vibes I have to people going through hard times or great times. 

I'm really enjoying it so far this season. I think it makes me a happier person to do something positive for the world each day. I'm open to ideas and welcome them in fact! Send me an email or comment below if you have random (or not) acts of kindness suggestions!!

2. The Bug's Swim "Graduation" 

Test day in coat & boots

Test day in sweater & shoes

Whoosh! We started this 4 week session of swim lessons back at the start of February.......for reasons too many (& too boring) to list - we didn't finish until March 19!!! But, we are done for now! I love that we have committed to ISR for teaching Lulu to be safe in/around water, but the closest instructor works out of Lake Forest :( So it is an hour of round trip driving every day (M-F) for 10 minutes in the pool.
Congrats Bug!!

So I'm relieved to be done - and SO SO SO proud of our Bug for working so darn hard at learning to swim and practicing her float.  
Donut to celebrate!!

3. Spring!
In the span of 2 short weeks we went from this huge ice/snow pile at the water's edge

to this - no ice/snow on the beach at all! Still in snowsuit & hat - but it was only 8am :)
Owenn thinks this is the perfect season for swimming in Lake Michigan!

Its coming! Or is it here?? The calendar says it is here- I am not entirely convinced :) But it is certainly coming! As I type this, the birds are chirping outside - loudly, insistently, seem to be telling to me one of Lulu's fav lines from "Go Dog Go" by P.D. Eastman "Get up! It is day! Time to get going! Go dog go!" 

Thank goodness our trusty spring bulbs are popping up in each of our garden beds around the house. I'm excited for the bursts of color to come forth - purple & white alliums, brilliant yellow daffodils, tulips of several colors. The tiny bits of green forcing their way toward the sun are encouraging enough for now - but oh it will be lovely when the yard/garden start to be awash with color.
Spring means our 1st family bike ride of the year!!

4. DIY Raised Bed Garden
My DIY dream husband!!

Chris took a 10 week long woodworking class this winter and it has really reignited his interest in this hobby. I am beyond excited that he gave me an early Mother's Day gift of a handmade cedar raised bed garden for our backyard!! He was incredibly efficient at making it - I think was done with it in less than a day! I was also grateful to my brother & Dad for helping move the bed from its building location on the patio to its "final resting place" along our back fence. 
Finished product - in place!! My first little weeds are growing so fast!

I ordered seeds to start from The Seed Savers Exchange, I figure if nothing really works I can always buy seedlings (which is what I've done in the past). But I'm looking forward to the seed starting too. It feels exciting to try new things - lots of learning I have to do - but thankfully some family & friends are more experienced than I am in this regard - so hoping to glean some knowledge from them!!
So much possibility!

Monday, March 4, 2019

Friday Round Up 3/4/19 - Technically a Monday Mash Up

Things have been kind of wild & crazy around our house during the month of February. And unfortunately, not in the most fun ways :( Some snow, then rain, then freezing temps, then ice, then do it all over again has left us feeling a bit, shall we say, under the weather. Like the February weather was a horribly wet, icy blanket we all wore around endlessly! I am pleased that this longest shortest month has come to a close & am doing this one mash up to account for the whole month!! Here we go!

1. Article to read/podcasts to check out

Some takeaways I had from this article - none are rocket science or really even new to me - maybe I appreciated this article because it reaffirmed the way I try to parent?? Struggle is good. Dealing with life's little difficulties & discomforts prepares kids to be high functioning adults. Natural consequences are some of life's best teachers. 

NPR's new series of podcasts called LifeKit
So far they've produced episodes on Health, Money & Parenting  - I listened to all 3 in their "Eat Your Way to a Healthier Life" series in one nap time & loved them. Admittedly, I could think/talk/hear about food all day long - so its not too much of a stretch for me. But it was a lot of good reminder type information. A good reminder that white/refined carbs are processed by our body in the same way as refined/white sugar. A good reminder that 1/2 of my plate should be filled with fruits & veggies every meal (man I have a long way to go on this one :( A good reminder that not every diet is created equal & not everyone should try to follow the same diet. I look very forward to listening to more of what they have to offer!

2. Visiting an old friend

Man, there's nothing like visiting an old college roommate to make you miss your college days. The days that were almost wholly unplanned/unstructured, the days that left hours for chatting over coffees, meals, drinks. The days that melted into late nights without anyone seeming to notice. I miss most of all that time to just "be" with my close friends. Not a girls night out, not a book club, not a coffee date, but just time to be. Literally just hanging out. 
The closest I can come to recreating that feeling is a weekend away visiting my friend Lauren (& her lovely husband - also a Chris & their beautiful daughter Kate - who is near in age to the Bug) on my own. I had a 5.5ish hour drive with nothing to do but listen to music and catch up on podcasts. And eat all the snacks. Whats a long drive without all the snacks??
We enjoyed a lazy weekend together of just hanging out. Lauren & I had the luxury of time alone together (eating out, shopping, getting coffees) to really talk. And, in my case anyway, not have to spell out the bevvy of swear words I use. It was a delightful weekend & I am quite thankful Lauren & Chris did not balk at my inviting myself :) Thanks guys!!

3. Skating on the golf course

Despite the fact that Chris ended up mildly concussed on this adventure (see above re: my overall happiness at February's conclusion!) Lulu & I had fun skating on the glassy ice that covered the public golf course near our house.

See above re: how over this strange weather I am...... but in this case -the cold snap came without any wind & the puddles froze over as smoothly as a freshly Zamboni-ed rink!! 

Our neighborhood has many perks - one of our most favorite is the golf course. I must admit I didn't expect it to ever offer us a nearby place to ice skate!!

4. Bobo & Lulu laughing

This happened the night Lulu & I arrived home from our week in Colorado. Chris got stuck on a delayed train, so wasn't able to come & pick us up from O'Hare at the time we'd planned on. Thank goodness my parents were willing to come for us.........and then let us stay for dinner with them :) Lulu now asks to watch this video by saying "BoBo DuDu ha ha ha" yes, you read that right - Lulu doesn't have her "L" sound nailed down quite yet :)

How was your longest shortest month? Were you hoping it was over as quickly as I was?? Or did you & your family have a better month??

Monday, February 4, 2019

Friday Recap - 2/1/19 - The Mountains Are Calling & I Must Go - several days late!

I am a couple days late in posting this - our travel plans went slightly off the rails due to the polar vortex which descended on Chicago last week. Snow and extreme cold did not make for easy air travel! Our time in Colorado felt like a tropical vacation in comparison! One day Marg & I snowshoed up mountain only wearing long sleeved t shirts and leggings- so hats/gloves/coats! So yeah, pretty much the beach.

So this week's post is dedicated to fun with Chris, Marg, the Bug & her cousins!

Friday, January 25, 2019

Friday Round Up - 1/25/18 - Change in Plans, Snow!, Cousins Skate, "The Disease of Being Busy"

Happy Friday! 
The Polar Vortex is ripping its way across the Midwest.....
the temperature is expected to be approximately
 -1 with a wind chill of -19 when this post is published! 
At least we like Old Man Winter around here!!

1. Change in Plans
We have some travel coming up & due to the freezing rain/sleet mixture our area had this week combined with Lulu rocking a fever.....we changed our travel plans! We virtually never do this, but our plans were flexible for once & there were very few downsides! Thankfully we are visiting my flexible sister & her girls - so our lodging didn't need to be tweaked at all!

The notable one is that my parents are taking us to the airport in the 5am hour......and I will miss my Mom's Group Dinner Club. The theme is "Dinner in the Hamptons" and everyone is making one of Ina Garten's recipes. I love the Barefoot Contessa - I love her recipes & her vibe! Sad to miss out on this theme, but it made the best sense for us.

Why punish oneself with the possibility of flight delays or worse, cancellations when your airline offers to change your flight for free??? I'm not a crazy lady - so I went with the change in plans :)

2. Snow!
We have had some good snowfalls this week! We've had enough snow to cross country ski, sled, and romp around happily!!

A few highlights of the snow this week:

I cross country skied up to one of our favorite coffee shops, Backlot to read my book and drink an oat milk latte that is, in my humble opinion, one of the best on the planet.

We met friends to sled with babies & dogs. It was cold, snowy, windy - so we didn't last too long....but we were invited back to their home for a cozy winter dinner. I love that Lulu is getting old enough to be interested in her friends. It makes my heart feel full to watch her play with some of the little people in her life!
Lulu & her friend Lilly rocking the teeter totter in the cold & dark :)

We took Owenn skiing with Lulu in her stroller with the ski attachments! What a great purchase that was - Lulu can be cozy under the cover of the stroller, in a nest of snowsuit & blankets while we get a great workout in hauling her along!

3. Cousins Skate

Despite Lulu's cousins, Aunt Tara & Uncle GR having a bonkers weekend, they invited us to skate on their backyard rink this past Monday! 

Again, cold, windy, sort of polar vortex-y, but Lulu loved it. She had so much fun being pushed around on the ice by her big cousins! She certainly doesn't have the hang of skating yet - but loves to talk about it anyway! BoBo & Bump came out to watch the antics, as did Lulu's cousins' Nana. A very fun afternoon topped off by hot chocolate made by Kane & a fire in their fireplace. Winter perfection!!

4. "The Disease of Being Busy"
I often listen to the program "On Being" on weekend mornings on WBEZ. I appreciate its commentary on faith, spirituality, religion, and all things in between. This post made me realize I should look at the program's website more often than the never that I currently do! A woman who I went to sleep away gymnastics camp with shared this article on Facebook (I'm almost sure I've read it already....can't be sure if I've shared it here.....sorry if this is a repeat!) this week & it struck a chord with me.

It seems to me I've read a hundred articles/posts about the benefits of allowing ourselves (& our kids) to be bored. To allow space for deep/big thoughts, creativity, wondering, imagining. Lots of good things can come from being bored it seems. And yet, it is so hard for us, (in the age of screens everywhere) to give ourselves this time/space.

Do you make space for boredom in your house? For yourself? For your kids? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this and the ways that you do it (if you do)! I don't know if I leave enough space for boredom - but it is on my mind, which is probably the first way I'm going to be able to accomplish the goal, right??

Friday, January 18, 2019

Friday Recap 1/18/19- Dad's Birthday, Choo choo to Booked, Snow fun, Oatmeal S'mores Cookie Recipe, "You Should Actually Send That Thank You Note",

Happy Friday! Winter storm warning here this afternoon through 12noon tomorrow! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray for snow!

1. Dad's Birthday

My Dad turned 84 (or 48 if you ask him) last week & we celebrated on Sunday evening. It was a fun, chaotic, loud and delightful party for Dad/Bump! It seems impossible that my Dad is 84, there are so many moments when he seems so much younger to me. I love getting together to celebrate these life events - its fun for me - but also teaches Lulu the importance of celebrating other people's big days!

2. Choo Choo to Booked

Lulu & I rode the CTA to go to one of our favorite book stores, Booked, yesterday to enjoy their kiddo music. The store is just delightful, with a wonderful selection of kiddo books (plus some grown up ones too) and a cozy atmosphere. The owner is warm and welcoming every time we visit & is more than happy to order books we want that she doesn't have in stock.
Lulu enjoyed the music for approximately 5 minutes before she demanded "out" :(

This week I was placing an order for some books for Lulu specifically about birds - she's been really into look for ducks & birds when we walk on a bridge near our house. I would love to know more about birds and thankfully my wonderful friend & college roommate, Amber, is into birding already! She also happens to be a mom to 2 beautiful littles, so I figured she'd have some insight into little kid bird books. Of course she did not disappoint! In case you want to know what I ordered, the books are: "Birds" by Kevin Henkes & Laura Dronzek, "Charley Harper's Count The Birds" by Zoe Burke & Charley Harper and "Mama Built a Little Next" by Jennifer Ward & Steve Jenkins

As I so often do, I got sidetracked by books when I thought I was going to be writing about Lulu's love of trains :) But it is worth noting that for the bargin price of $2.50 you can bring your train loving little on the CTA to geek out!! Double bonus if you only stay at your destination for less than 2 can go home for the price of a transfer.......a whopping $0.25! Lulu still talks about seeing Santa on the choo choo (when we rode the CTA Holiday Train back in December) I'm guessing she's a touch disappointed each time I tell her that, no, Santa is unlikely to be on this choo choo :)

3. Snow Fun

Man. I love the snow. It didn't matter that we didn't get a ton last weekend, it mattered that we got some!!

We went sledding with friends (& had pizza delivered here afterward) and went cross country skiing the next day.

We also went sledding with some of Lulu's cousins - so much fun all the way around :)

Pure & simple - wintry bliss!! Have you & yours had any snow lately? What's your favorite snowy day activity? I should mention that after we play in the snow, we typically retreat inside, light a fire, drink hot drinks & read. Lest you think we are outside & active all winter :)

I will be more careful with the marshmallows next time....these do not look very pretty :)

I don't remember where I came across this recipe.....Pinterest? Instagram? Did one of you lovelies send it to me? I have not a clue - such is life with mom brain ;) Either way - I had some downtime during Lulu's naps this weekend, so I made this cookie dough. I baked some of the cookies & brought them to my parents' house for my Dad's birthday party. They were really good. Sort of scary good. I made them open faced - it seemed honestly like too much to have 2 full sized cookies, nutella & a marshmallow be 1 serving......I am not judging if you would like to have 2 of these - but 1 cookie per serving felt much more reasonable!

What are you baking during this winter season? I love to try out long, lazy recipes on these cold, sometimes dark days. Would love to know what's making your house smell like heaven!!

Gratitude is sort of a buzz word at the moment, would you agree? I don't mind - in my most humble opinion we could all benefit from expressing (& receiving) more gratitude. Science seems to bear out the benefits of gratitude - I know I've shared articles to this end in the past - but these things bear repeating! 

This article is not talking about the thank you notes we write for gifts given - the random gift card thank you note that is obligatory is not what was studied here. The researchers studied the "big" thank you notes where the writer expresses big feelings & deep appreciation for the recipient's actions/help. Thank you for supporting me when I was going through a tough time. Thank you for being with me during a time of grief/loss. Thank you for your guidance as I navigated a career or job change. The big things. Sometimes we all feel these big feelings for small things, it is worth writing the big thank you notes anytime you feel the big feels. The researchers found they were not met with the awkward feelings the writers anticipated. Quite the opposite - receiving these big thank you notes made the recipients feel so good they rated the feeling at a 4 out of 5 on the happiness scale they were given in the study. 

If you could, by investing a few minutes & a postage stamp, make a friend or family member feel the 4 out of 5 feels.......wouldn't you do it???? I know I would :) I guess I do already - but I can always write more of these notes. I like to tell my people how important they are to me. Most days I couldn't get through the day without my tribe of family and friends. We are social animals - there is no denying it. We require the closeness of others. Its high time we start acknowledging the great import these people play in our lives.